Events over the last two weeks have helped me put a finger on why public approval for all three branches of the federal government is forty percent or lower. If you see the problem the way I do, then we have to ask whether the remedy is one we are willing to accept.
Supreme Court. As I mentioned in my July 3rd commentary, in the Defense of Marriage Act decision the Supreme Court interpreted away the constitutional requirement that it not render an opinion or issue a judgment unless there is an actual “case” or “controversy” pending before it. Now, so long as the Court thinks it is “prudent” to give an opinion, it will. In essence, the Court now openly serves as a roving constitutional convention to re-write the U.S. Constitution as it pleases. Republican Congressional leaders just grouse and acquiesce, and Democrats only care that the result was favorable.
President. By a blog post the President decides he will not abide by the law requiring larger employers to provide employee health insurance by January 1, 2014. Under Article 2 of the Constitution, he has an obligation to see “that the Laws be faithfully executed.” The President is a lawbreaker. But, Republicans only rant and hold more hearings, and Democrats breathe a sigh of relief that the President may have made ObamaCare less of an issue in the 2014 elections.
Congress. For the sake of brevity, you could just re-read the previous two entries. However, the immigration Issue has helped crystalize things further.
The Problem Demonstrated
The U.S. Senate passed an immigration bill that epitomizes the problem. Just reading what’s on paper, divorced from any other context, I can possibly see that reasonable minds could disagree on whether the law will secure the border and be administratively workable.
But the bill was passed in a “context,” namely that the majority of American people do not trust any of the branches of the federal government.
The “context” is that Americans have been promised border security and reformed processes before. Those promises weren’t kept at a time when Americans had fewer reasons to distrust the federal government. Therefore, can any member of Congress have any reasonable expectation we would trust them now?
Whatever they pass is meaningless, at least to me. If the President doesn’t like it, he will ignore it, and based on current practice, Congress will let him get away with it. Agencies can’t be trusted to carry out the law anymore, and Congress seems to do nothing but have more hearings. And, since some disgruntled group seems to sue over every law it doesn’t like, we can count on a lawsuit which will allow the Supreme Court to make the words in the law mean whatever it wants them to mean.
The Underlying Problem
With a heart breaking for my country, I’m reminded of the words of the Prophet Isaiah who described the state of a nation that was soon to experience God’s judgment:
“Justice is turned back, And righteousness stands far away; For truth has stumbled in the street, And uprightness cannot enter.” 1
That’s it. Truth has stumbled in the streets. And because of that, if a just and righteous person, speaking the truth, were to try to “enter” into politics with real solutions, he or she would just be a “voice crying in the wilderness.” Most likely many would assume it was just another voice we couldn’t trust.
The United States federal government is a mess not just because of its policies or its scandals. It is a mess because there is no truth, no sense among us that anyone up there is telling us the truth; on the whole, integrity is lacking.
The remedy is one we don’t seem to want to embrace as a nation: Fear God. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, and when we acknowledge Him we find the only basis for those truths by which we can govern ourselves well and the civil government can govern with justice and righteousness.
From looking at the overall quality of the people we elect, it would seem that we no longer fear God or care about being governed by those whose actions show that they really do. When we — the American people — change, then and only then will we see the change we really need in Washington.
1 Isaiah 59:14